The other day I saw a circa 1960-something Volvo being towed on the back of a flat deck truck. I recognized the car, well at least the model, immediately. One of my friend’s moms drove a similar car in the early 80s when I was in high school.
In 1982 that car seemed ancient to me. Not retro or classic, just old. The styling was dated and it lacked the bells and whistles boasted by newer vehicles – think automatic windows and cigarette lighters!
But when I saw the same car the other day it looked cool and hip.
Somehow, in the decades between high school and 2019, that Volvo transformed itself from a relic into a classic.
On the eve of my 53rd birthday, that vintage Volvo was giving me a message.
As I watched it pass by on the highway I thought about how so many of us in my demographic go to the ends of the earth, and the depths of our wallets, to fight the telltale signs of aging. Two-hundred-dollar wrinkle cream, Botox and Spanx, are a few examples. It’s like we’re shouting to anyone who will listen, “Look at me, I used to be young and chic.” Unfortunately, for most of us, desperately clinging to an outdated idea of ourselves just makes us look and seem older – like a 20-year old sedan trying to compete with the latest models.
But, like the Volvo, I cling to the belief that there’s hope – that just when we can no longer carry on the charade of youth, the magic will happen, as it did for that old car.
I believe this because I have an excellent role model: my mother.
At 78 (sorry mom, the cat’s out of the bag now) my mom is rocking her age. Not just because she dresses impeccably, works out regularly and visits the hairdresser more often than she visits me, but because she has stopped fighting the onslaught of birthday after birthday and started celebrating where she’s at. She got hearing aids so she wouldn’t miss a thing during precious conversations with her adoring grandchildren. She gratefully accepts technological help and, best of all; she has embraced the wisdom that is the priceless tradeoff for wrinkles and age spots. To me, she has never looked more beautiful.
Not that she is going gently into that good night. Not even close! For my mom, accepting her age has also meant embracing any and all opportunities. She dives into every experience – never missing an opportunity to acquire the perfect outfit – and drags along my father (often kicking and screaming) for the ride.
Thanks, mom, for showing me every day that birthdays are a gift and reminding me that with a little grace, a sense of adventure and the right shoes I owe it to myself to make the most of acting my age.